Speech/statement | Date: 08/04/2021 | Ministry of Foreign Affairs
By State Secretary Jens Frølich Holte (8 April)
Statement by State Secretary Jens Frølich Holte in the UN Security Council high-level open debate on mine action.
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Thank you to Viet Nam for holding a debate on this very important issue, and to the briefers for their valuable input. And congratulations to Your Excellency Son on your new position. Chairing this important meeting on the first day in the job is a great start.
There is no acceptable use of anti-personnell mines and cluster munitions.
By design, they kill and maim indiscriminately. Civilians or combatants, children or soldiers, men or women, in conflict or post-conflict – an anti-personnel landmine does not differentiate when its deadly payload is unleashed on unsuspecting victims. In fact, year after year the numbers show that children pay the highest price. They are disproportionately harmed by landmines and explosive remnants of war.
Mines, and cluster munitions also hinder the return of refugees. They render agricultural land and grazing areas unusable – increasing the risk of food insecurity and denying people their livelihoods. They terrorise entire communities – often for decades. They tear apart families and leave victims in need of lifelong assistance. And improvised landmines and explosive devices in particular pose a severe threat to peacekeepers and peacekeeping operations.
Mine action is vital.
Resolution 2365 acknowledged that anti-personnel mines and explosive remnants of war merit special attention from the Security Council. They have a destabilising effect on peace and security, amplify the effects of conflict, pose obstacles to conflict resolution and the provision of humanitarian relief, and threaten peacekeeping personnel.
This is why it has long been a humanitarian priority for Norway to clear mines and explosive remnants of war and provide risk education to affected populations.
In our experience, successful mine action requires four things:
- First, full implementation of the obligation not to use anti-personnel mines.
- Second, strong national ownership and commitment to mine action. It is almost impossible to make progress without political will.
- Third, international cooperation and support, including from donors, mine operators, civil society, the UN, and regional organisations.
- And fourth, effective and targeted, mine action programmes that are sensitive to gender, age, disability and give adequate consideration to the diverse needs and experiences of people in affected communities. The importance of this is also recognised in the Oslo Action Plan on mine action.
In addition, mine risk education plays an important role in protecting of civilians from explosions, especially in areas where hostilities are ongoing, or clearance activities have not yet been completed.
Such programmes must be context-specific and integrated with wider humanitarian, protection, and mine clearance efforts. Survivors and victims must be heard.
Indeed, mine action can open up new opportunities for participation and empowerment, particularly for women. Ensuring the inclusion of women in clearance programmes will benefit both the programme itself and society at large.
Norway consistently argues in favour of effectful multilateral disarmament treaties. In our view, , the Anti-Personnel Mine Ban Convention is critical to the success of global mine action. Since its adoption in Oslo in 1997, the Convention has become one of the most successful disarmament treaties. There are 164 states parties and many more countries are observing the norm against use established by the Convention – including use of improvised anti-personnel mines. Likewise, the Convention on Cluster Munitions is a key instrument to protect people from unexploded ordonance. We call on states that have not yet acceded to these conventions to do so as a matter of urgency.
Since the Mine Ban Convention entered into force, there has been a steady decline in the number of casualties from mines and explosive remnants of war, with a global low in 2013. However, some countries affected by armed conflict have seen a disproportionate increase. These include Syria, Nigeria and, in particular, Afghanistan, which experiences at least one casualty every day.
In these areas, much of the increase is due to the use of new landmines, most significantly the use of improvised land mines by non-state actors.
There is a pressing need to find ways to counter this deadly trend.
As we have heard today, for many people the scourge of landmines is a horrific daily reality. So, we must remain steadfast in our focus. As a Council there are a few practical steps we can take. We must reaffirm the obligation of all not to use anti-personnel mines; we must condemn the illegal use, stockpiling, production and transfer of these mines; and we must hold those responsible for such activities to account.